Reviewed by Ian Lipke
Would you like to read a book that will not let you budge from your comfortable lounge, that has you checking that your door is locked and bolted, that fires your brain to determine who the monster is who kills for the most bizarre of reasons that on the surface look sound? Nora Roberts has asked the question. How an obsession can seem so necessary to one mind, so obviously right, while being equally horrific to others, is an issue faced squarely in this book.
Obsession in Death is the story of a clever deceiver who murders people who have come up against Lieutenant Eve Dallas and, in the twisted mind of the killer, insulted or in other ways, disrespected her. The killer becomes Eve’s champion, punishing those who have verbally abused Eve, but cannot be punished by the justice system. Committed by a clever and demented person, the killing goes on, the perpetrator well aware that Eve will have to find and destroy the attacking societal misfit.
Characters, richly drawn, populate the fertile mind of Nora Roberts (writing as J.D. Robb). Poor people with less than a cigarette between them, cunning scammers who feed on others, poor but honest characters, characters that breathe the same air as the poor but are impossibly wealthy – all intermingle in the novel, never once dropping out of character. Situations are bizarre, ordinary or contrived so carefully that we do not see how they were constructed. We don’t question this author’s creations, we just accept them.
How can an ex-confidence trickster forego criminality but then build an empire because, first of all, he can and, secondly, because his wife is his princess? He builds whole cities on far-away planets and the reader accepts the situation as normal. The Division that Eve heads is the most expert in the policing world but all of her detectives forego large salaries and more than affluent surroundings to work for a pittance in wages and in conditions that are cramped and lacking any semblance of comfort. The reader hardly notices all this.
The circumstances and the people in the story fit so snugly that the result is a foregone conclusion. Rapid fire action, intelligent action, makes this a pistol of a book. The unwinding of clues and their subtle reallocation draws parallels that stir the active minds of the intelligence gatherers. Eve and her husband Roarke know the power of databases and are expert at unearthing seemingly unrelated matters that combined, produce a new synthesis, a new way at looking at evidence, at unmasking a killer.
If you had bought the book expecting a limousine service, you would be disappointed. This is a ride in a jaunty jalopy, there are no bends just rapid swivels in direction, belly-wrenching action as the floor falls away below you, tension so high as to make you want to scream…be well, J.D. Robb has never lost a passenger yet.
J.D. Robb has been around for a long time and some of the plots read like recipes – but not Obsession in Death. It is an invigorating, wonderful read.
By J.D. Robb